In his 2009 book 'The Life You Can Save', Singer presented the thought experiment of a child drowning in a pond before our eyes, something we would all readily intervene to prevent, even if it meant ruining an expensive pair of shoes we were wearing. He argued that, in fact, we are in a very similar ethical situation with respect to many people in the developing world: there are life-saving interventions, such as vaccinations and clean water, that can be provided at only a relatively small cost to ourselves. Given this,
Singer argues that we in the west should give up some of our luxuries to help those in the world who are most in need.
Around this central idea a new movement has emerged over the past few years known as Effective Altruism, which seeks to use the best evidence available in
order to help the most people and do the most good with the limited resources that we have available. Associated with this movement are organisations such as GiveWell, which evaluates the relative effectiveness of different charities, and Giving What We Can, which encourages members to pledge to donate 10% or more of their income to effective poverty relief programs.
In this joint event between the University of Melbourne Secular Society and Melbourne University Philosophy Community, Peter Singer discussed the subject 'Ethics, Utilitarianism and Effective Altruism'.